New ‘Shopper Stock Take’ index launched – findings reveal pricing and quality are key 2016 shopper expectations

A new 'Shopper Stock Take' research index has been launched by independent shopper research agency, Shoppercentric. The report – reviewing UK shopper's thoughts and feelings about the grocery retail sector – is set to become an annual benchmark, providing comparisons for future reviews.

"Whilst it's clear that the discounters and digital opportunities are driving some of the changes in the UK retail landscape, our new index broadens perspectives and shows how shoppers themselves are impacting the market," said Danielle Pinnington, Managing Director at Shoppercentric.

"We are witnessing a post-recessionary trend in which many shoppers quell their impulsivity and take an even more considered approach to their spending. Their expectations of grocery retailers include great quality and service, not just low pricing - by truly understanding shoppers shifting dynamics a smart retailer or brand can start different conversations that potentially standout from the competitive crowd, and resonate with a more thoughtful shopper mindset. It's time to listen."

The 2016 Shopper Stock Take index launching today reveals:

Savvy shoppers – are they more considered in their spending?

  • A huge 86 percent of shoppers agree that they're more careful about avoiding waste nowadays and 68 percent said they try to make things go further
  • 73 percent said they prefer to buy ingredients to make meals from scratch rather than buy ready meals
  • 80 percent of shoppers agree that they now buy fresh food as and when they need it so that it's really fresh
  • Planning what to buy ahead of shopping is a preference for 71 percent of shoppers
  • Price is ahead of ethical or environmental considerations for 57 percent of shoppers
  • 55 percent of shoppers believe that their more considered approach to spending on groceries and household goods has made them more environmentally friendly
  • 58 percent say they prefer the money they spend benefits local businesses and 61 percent of shoppers want their spend to benefit British businesses

Promotion commotion – what offers shoppers the best value?

  • Over half of shoppers (54 percent overall, and 60 percent of men) prefer every day low pricing (EDLP) rather than the hi-lo strategy often employed by grocery retailers
  • Price matching is attractive to 84 percent of shoppers
  • Promotions that require scanning or m-comms are far less popular with UK shoppers, demonstrating that immediacy is key:
    • Scanning a barcode or QR code does not appeal to 67 percent of UK shoppers – the same for mobile based promotions
    • Money off or points coupons in a loyalty card statement appeal to 89 percent of shoppers
    • Shoppers love getting a good bargain from the core grocery supermarkets, and many are prepared to seek them out - with 51 percent of shoppers prepared to split their shopping across several stores in order to access the best promotions
    • Misleading promotions scored an average of 8 out of a possible 10 'annoyance' points amongst grocery shoppers and 'out of stock' promotions scored 7 'annoyance' points out of 10

Spending habits – what drives shoppers?

  • 1 in 3 shoppers are varying where they shop to get different items in different place.
  • Economy of time is driving 1 in 4 shoppers repertoires, so convenience beyond location continues to be important
  • Repertoires also span channels, so shoppers are increasingly familiar with a range of offers – and will judge retailers accordingly. In the last month channels used by UK shoppers for grocery shopping include: 82 percent using the Big Four grocers, 43 percent used the discounters, 39 percent went to convenience stores, 28 percent went online and six percent utilised local specialists
  • Shopper attitudes vary enormously towards grocery shopping – from 63 percent who enjoy buying food the family will like, to 56 percent who just want to get it over with so that they can spend time on important things and 28 percent who feel it's a chore that they don't enjoy. Nevertheless 48 percent agree that although it's hard work, it's important to get it right

Channel hopping – why do we do it and what motivates shoppers?

  • On average, UK shoppers now visit four different retailers a month across an average of two channels for their grocery shopping. Some of this is down to hectic lifestyles (23 percent), and some of it is down to preference (28 percent shop in specific shops for specific items
  • 71 percent of shoppers go to the discounters because they're considered the cheapest, but 47 percent also said it was because they know they're getting good value without having to work out promotions. Their fresh and unusual foods are also pulling in shoppers (19 and 23 percent respectively)
  • 49 percent of Big 4 grocery shoppers go there because they can get everything under one roof – vs 12 percent of discount shoppers
  • Knowledgeable, expert and friendly staff stand out as key differentiators for traditional specialists and they have a particularly niche set of drivers revolving around quality (52 percent), freshness (41 percent), and their shoppers' desire to support the local economy (57 percent)

Increasingly connected shoppers

  • Mobile is a key catalyst to the growth of online shopping with 1 in 4 UK shoppers use a smartphone to shop
  • Shoppers are less frustrated with online channels than stores but what does seriously annoy shoppers via this channel are wrong items delivered on online purchase (39 percent) and paying for delivery (36 percent). Misleading or wrong promotional details were also a cause of frustration (35 percent). Instore, shoppers were most annoyed with closed checkouts when a store is busy (54 percent), rude staff (54 percent) and long queues (49 percent)
  • 20 percent of shoppers now use price comparison sites and 30 percent look up and use deal/voucher websites. 41 percent still collect and use vouchers from magazines or flyers that come through the door.

Pinnington concludes: "Each shopping channel clearly has its benefits and role in a shopper's repertoire and with these choices now at their doorstep (or fingertips), they're picking and choosing where and when they shop to suit their needs and wants on each occasion. Woe betides retailers who don't deliver against expectations though, or don't deliver their 'point of difference' versus other channels – today's shoppers are a fickle bunch and they will vote with their feet! This year keeping abreast of shopper needs as they evolve is going become as imperative, as the market itself becomes more fragmented."

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